Sex at a young age, difficulties in college, gang-related action, staying in abusive relationships, wearing provocative clothes, physical and psychological violence – versus – exceptional academic achievement, outstanding athleticism, involvement in extra- curricular activities and a commitment to community participation.
What can we do to change the lives of young girls from the first situation to the latter? And how can each of us make a difference? Can you as an adult step into the world of a young lady and work diligently to enable her to become what she’s capable of becoming? How can someone like you possibly help the young girls with whom you come into contact? These are all important questions, and I’d love to discuss some of my ideas.
In our fast-paced society where many parents work and have too little time with their children-certainly much less time than at the past-it is extremely important to find time to promote and enable young girls. Young folks strive to achieve a feeling of belonging-often at a group or clique of one sort or another-where they could explore and define their own identities.
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In a world where adults tend to be less involved in the lives of young people, we will need to step up and take responsibility for helping them learn about themselves and how to make their way into the world. If we don’t, we leave this up to our contemporary mass media to dictate our children’s perspective of the world, themselves, and so, their very future. Mass media doesn’t, and perhaps can’t, teach several things.
It certainly does little to teach self worth. It doesn’t teach initiative. It doesn’t teach young girls even simple things like how to eat healthfully, the value of dressing with course or where to go to grow and learn about themselves and other successful young girls. Young girls need you to help them grow and learn.
Programs like Girls Unlimited, athletic pursuits and extracurricular academic programs all provide favorable community-based youth support systems. Many young women don’t know about these programs, nor do they believe they could ever be a part of them. This is where excellent women mentors can play an integral role in the development of young girls. Listen, listen, listen to what they’re working through.
Consider ways to connect them to other people and ways to help them develop in a positive manner. It simply doesn’t matter if a young lady is the kid or not – help them they will thank you tremendously later. I won’t ever forget the first girl who told me that I could succeed, then stuck by my side through both good and not-so-good days. Regardless of when I went to her, she listened to and encouraged me all the same. She asked, in deed or word, how I was going to help her.
She concentrated only on how she could help me. To this day I think of her, I call her and I send her cards to let her know how much I appreciate everything she did for me. I encourage you to take a minute to consider the first woman who enabled you. Without mentorship, it’s much too easy for young people to be attracted to negative cliques or groups, never living up to their full potential.
Because we know that young girls have a strong need for affiliation in peer groups, it’s absolutely essential that we let them connect to positive, supportive environments where they can explore who they are and what they want to become. Ultimately, we must offer the tools and settings to allow them to realize all of the terrific opportunities which are out there just waiting. I firmly believe that we should work hard to create a world where any child or young adult – regardless of source – isn’t impeded from achieving their full potential.
Obviously, the desires and fantasies of the young are, in large part, directly affected by people surrounding them. Given the chance to participate in programs that let them view their own positive potential, many young girls will start to understand that the world holds possibilities of which they never dreamt. The ability to learn what they’re capable of in the broader world has to start somewhere. Strong female mentorship is the key to helping young girls get a quick start in the race of life. I ask you now – who are you mentoring – how are you Lending a Hand and Lifting a Soul?
- Find somebody who you work with to hear and encourage – listen to ways to help her and offer your help – do it with no expectations of something in return – just help her.
- Go to a company whose mission is to enable young women and extend your time.
- When you see a young lady is having trouble, ask yourself how you can be of help – and offer to help.
- Go to your regional University/College’s Career Center and provide your time to mentor a student.